Valley's Druw Bowen (left) and Keyshawn Payne (right) fight for a rebound with Sissonville's Steven Hairston.
SMITHERS, W.Va. - After losing two of its last three games, Valley really needed a win to gather some momentum heading into sectionals.A pair of Greyhound sophomores made sure that Valley's upperclassmen didn't have to work too hard on senior night to get that victory.Sophomores Zac Warden and Henry Barron-Houchins scored 26 and 22 points, respectively, as Class A No. 7 Valley built a 13-point halftime lead and cruised to a 77-66 win over visiting Sissonville on Tuesday.After losing back-to-back games against Tug Valley and Clay-Battelle, the Greyhounds (18-3) picked up a win at Fayetteville on Monday and built off that momentum on Tuesday."I said we had a little bit of the Tug-itis," Valley coach Joe McCoy said. "We went over there and got beat by three and I didn't think we played well over there. Tug is a good team, they're going to take it out of you. We come out of there and had to go up and play in the HIT championship against Clay-Battelle and you go up there and make 5 for 15 from the free-throw line and 3 for 17 from 3-point and 30 percent from the floor and still in the ball game - at least we're playing defense."We've been on a two- or three-game slow streak and I was just glad to see them come out of it and play."It all started early with Warden, who knocked down a 3-pointer to start the game. He was far from done though, as the 6-foot-6 post player flashed some impressive inside-outside game as he knocked down 4 of 6 shots from long distance and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
"Coming off a couple of losses, we had to come into this game because it's getting down to sectionals and we've got to start playing our ball, we can't keep playing sluggish," Warden said. "We came out and played good all four quarters and got the 'W,' so we did our job.""Zac's a go-to guy," McCoy said. "He can play inside-out. You get [Raeshawn] Breckenridge moving the ball and getting it to him, that's what we have to work on."After a close first quarter, McCoy adjusted his lineup in the second, bringing in guards Donte Wilkerson and Tracy Conliffe off the bench to crank up the speed of play. It worked as the Greyhounds ended the period on a 21-10 run to take a 38-25 lead into the break.
Then it was Barron-Houchins' turn as the point guard poured in 18 second-half points and was a general nuisance to four freshmen back-court players (Bryce Taylor, Chance Brown, Seth Bowlin, Blake Newhouse) for the Indians (9-13)."It's hard to match up - their sophomores don't look like ours," Sissonville coach Rich Skeen said. "They're a good team. We've been struggling offensively, not as much tonight, but we still haven't been able to click. We're counting on three freshmen to do the majority of our scoring."That's a good team to play going into sectionals, they're very athletic and that will get us ready, it really will."The game concluded the regular season for Sissonville while Valley has a date at Buffalo at 7:30 Friday before it can look ahead to the postseason.Once there, the Greyhounds are harboring some pretty lofty postseason goals. Skeen for one, believes Valley will be a threat to reach the state tournament.
"They have a good chance," Skeen said. "I know they have a tough region but I think they have a good chance to make it to Charleston and make some noise and it seems like they've really improved as the year has gone on."Breckenridge added 13 points, four assists and five steals for the Greyhounds.Newhouse led the Indians with 17 points while Brown and Bowlin each added 16.Valley converted 26 of 30 shots from the foul line compared to 9 of 12 for Sissonville, allowing the Greyhounds to keep the Indians at bay down the stretch.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.